I sometimes get asked how to find betas and I’ve written posts about that in the past.
But I think it’s worth noting that most – MOST – fanfiction writers don’t have betas and are doing pretty damn well without them. They won’t be putting ‘unbetaed’ in their tags or notes, and they just…don’t have ‘em.
It’s an absolutely normal part of the fanfiction process for the majority of writers. So if you feel like you’re doing something ‘Wrong’ because you’re just starting out without a beta, you’re not. Or it’s been a few years and you don’t have a beta. Or it’s been your entire fanfiction life and you don’t want a beta, you’re doing fine. Tbh, many writers pick up betas through acquisition – they’ve written so much that eventually one of their readers either offers, or they talk to a reader about it and that’s how that happens. And that’s why it is so hard to find betas, because the most common form of ‘acquiring a beta’ is just ‘I was writing for so long without one that eventually I had a regular reader who had a really good eye and seemed to like what I do so now they beta my work.’
Basically if you’re writing fanfiction without a beta or editor you’re doing nothing wrong, you’re great, and you’re super valid and awesome. You’re not even on the road less travelled, you’re on ‘the road most people are travelling on.’
Brought to you by the: Tired of seeing people try to bring professional writing rules to fanfiction – especially ones specifically that make it very hard to write, or that impose forced rules of interaction, or that shame – when fanfiction is specifically about tossing a lot of those rules anarchistically in the trash so that people can have fun / enjoy a hobby.
I’m a professional writer of fiction and when I write professionally, I have colleagues and editors and copyeditors and proofreaders who go through everything I publish at various stages to make it the best (or most marketable, anyway) it can be.
when I write fanfic, I say fuck all that. this is for fun, this is for me, and I really don’t care if it’s perfect as long as I had fun with it.
Agree with all this. I mean, I enjoy workign with a beta because it makes me more confident, but I also enjoy just writing the thing and putting it out there.
At the same time, I realize I’m more experienced and confident than some. So if you’re struggling with how to actually write without an editor, if it makes you nervous or you still are driven to put out the best work you can (because you want to, not out of shame or obligation), I thought I’d share my three rules for self-editing. I taught intro philosophy courses when in grad school, so I’ve shepherded hundreds of students through one of their first college-level papers, and I guarantee you, “self-edited meta” was the gold standard most of them couldn’t reach. These seemed to help them just get on with it already.
- Read it out loud. Especially if you’re a native English speaker, what “seems” right usually works better than memorizing rhetorical/grammatical rul
- Leave it be for a while. Set your draft aside. Take a few hours – walk the dog, grab a Starbucks, do the laundry. Often enough, when you come back to it you’ll have fresh eyes and a much more creative frame of mind. Plus you’ll be reading your work more like a writer, not like someone sweating bullets over the finnicky details.
- Just stop it already. In my experience, after about 3-4 edits you start seeing what you expect to be there and not what you’ve actually written. Even if it still doesn’t seem quite right, I’ll stop the whole tweaking cycle once I get to that point.
As I said, this is mainly for people nervous about putting their work out there, or for people who are driven to make their fic the best it can be because that’s what they want. If it works for you, great. If not, that’s reason enough to chuck it in the rubbish. As the OP said, this is meant to be fun.